LCD Soundsystem's Manchester Warehouse Project comeback gig shows band has not lost its edge

LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem Credit: Sebastian Matthes

There are plenty of us who’d given up on ever seeing LCD Soundsystem again. In April 2011, the New York ensemble bowed out with a final show at Madison Square Garden, after leader James Murphy had decided to quit at the top.

The legacy he left behind was a trio of near-faultless studio albums that mixed contagious electronic grooves with abrasive post-punk and elements of art-rock, channelling his favourite bits from pop culture into something vivid, discerning and fresh.

Murphy hasn’t been idle since retiring the band. His various endeavours have included producing music for Arcade Fire, launching his own brand of espresso, collaborating with IBM at the US Open tennis tournament and, perhaps crucially, remixing David Bowie.

It was on the advice of his late friend Bowie, he says, that he opted to reform LCD Soundsystem for a series of festival gigs last year. Now they’re back in full effect with the scintillating American Dream, a huge hit in the UK and their first chart-topping album in the US.

James Murphy Credit: Sebastian Matthes 

Murphy chose to celebrate this year’s biggest comeback by announcing an extensive tour of Europe and North America.

Their British dates began as headliners on the opening weekend of Manchester’s annual series of underground club nights, The Warehouse Project, a 15-week event that will also host, among others, Floating Points, Todd Terry, Laurent Garnier during its run.

Taking to the stage, amid flashing stars and swirling green light, LCD Soundsystem were in euphoric mood from the off, launching into Get Innocuous! like a scruffier, more party-friendly Kraftwerk.

The bobbing techno-funk of I Can Change was followed by the first of several songs from the new record, Call the Police, a glorious moment that somehow managed to transform the themes of American Dream – loss, decay, disconnection and political anxiety – into a rapturous communal experience.

One of the most endearing things about LCD Soundsystem is the manner in which they fix their heart to their sleeve. Murphy’s love of certain artists is easy to spot – a little Talking Heads here, some Bowie there, New Order, Brian Eno and Cabaret Voltaire too – but his genius lies in his ability to assimilate these influences in a way that furthers his songs rather than holds them back.

Typical of this approach was Emotional Haircut, which came cantering in on a pure Joy Division rhythm, before angling off into booming electro territory, complete with searing guitar and vocal.

LCD Soundsystem Credit: Sebastian Matthes

Particularly striking was how many of these songs felt like readymade anthems in a live setting. Yr City’s a Sucker, for instance, a fairly obscure B-side, offered an idea of what The Fall might sound like if they’d devoted themselves to dance music.

And the truly beautiful Someone Great, ostensibly a tender rumination on death, was transformed into an arms-in-the-air floor-thumper.

The new compositions are already very much at home in the setlist. None more so than Tonite, a hymn to the finite nature of existence that dazzled and darted with real panache.

It proved an ideal companion piece to the feel-good favourite that closed the show, All My Friends. A song about grasping the moment and maintaining the youthful intensity of friendship in the face of advancing years, it seemed like a perfect note on which to finish.